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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Data Centers: Hidden Behemoths of the Internet

When you type a search into google, it scans billions of pages, delivering your results totalling possibly in the millions, or in the dozens, in a fraction of a second. How does it do that? Data centers. Information hosted on the internet has to have a place to stay both when being used and for simple storage. The more information a website hosts and indexes, the more data is produced in these centers, and are archived in massive arrays of servers. When you host a website, often your information gets stored on a server somewhere in your webhost's data center. With the huge influx of information into the internet rising exponentially, how we are storing this data is becoming a huge problem, both online and offline. Data centers for huge websites are massive energy sinks, using up large amounts of electricity to cool the servers as they heat up from running through so much information on a second-by-second basis. It's quickly becoming one of the major sources of energy use in our country. There is a huge need for sustainability in data centers. Many web hosts these days are offering green solutions: a small surcharge to ensure that the carbon emitted into the environment for your website's information storage in their data center is offset. Its different though for huge web corporations that use up so much energy they can't just offset their carbon.

This is what a typical server array in a Data Center looks like.

Take Facebook, a website with over 500 million users, who upload millions of images a day, posting almost 20,000 comments every second. Each bit of info uploaded to facebook goes into their data center's dedicated servers, and they are running out of space. Now, facebook is planning on building a new data center, one that uses passive heating and cooling to lower energy use, as well as relying on fewer batteries for backup power in case of a blackout. Not only that, but theyre planning everything in an open environment, posting images of the blueprints, details, as well as providing information on their new data center. This will hopefully raise awareness of the hidden energy being wasted by our fiddling on the internet.

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17 comments:

Team Panda said...

im guessing they use the same method on that jeopardy robot .. damn robots trying to take over the world

Danny Murphy said...

Great post mate, really interesting. I never really considered the hardware aspect of running a site like Facebook

POP! said...

Wow, that'll be interesting to see the blueprints and everything once they construct it

Jellybro said...

thats a huge server 0_o

ironchefman said...

I think roughly 60-70% of the energy used for data servers is lost as heat. And to account for that, they need to put in massive climate control systems, using even more energy to combat the waste heat. With all the computing centers we use, there is a lot to gain with this kind of improvement!

Piets said...

I cant wait to see what the future has in store for us :3

JuX said...

good article and insight into the way google and other search engines work.

Merkin said...

Are you serious ironchefman? 60-70%?!

Joe said...

luckily this new data center will use the passive heat generated by the servers to warm the offices and be channeled rather than be lost.

Grafted said...

Really interesting read

Mr. Dough said...

On the heat waste issue, there are current developments in the field that involve recapturing wasted heat and reusing it. It's just a matter of time.

mac-and-me said...

awesome pic :3

Corridor said...

Data centres. Hmm... Wish I had one lol.

But seriously, I didn't expect the data centres to be THAT big. I honestly thought the data centres were about the size of a post office storeroom.

Waywardly said...

This is insane! I wonder what google servers look like. XD

Bayyy said...

looks messy O.o

Patres said...

These are really huge energy hungry beasts indeed!
But it's what it takes to keep some huge sites running. I think they should plaster solar panels all over their buildings to try and make this run as 'green' as possible.

-M- said...

I bet that in the long run it will be more profitable to facebook if they do it to cut down the energy use. Would be interesting to know how much they have to pay for the electricity on one of these server rooms.

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